Canadian phone maker BlackBerry announced it has formed a special committee to examine strategic alternatives “to enhance value and increase scale in order to accelerate BlackBerry 10 deployment”. Specifically, the five-person committee, which includes BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins, will review possible joint ventures, partnerships, going private or an outright sale of the company.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about a possible sale and there was even talk about reviewing “strategic opportunities” after announcing a $125 million loss during Q1 2012, along with former CEO Jim Balsillie’s resignation from the board. This time around, however, Heins feels it’s “the right time” to officially pursue this.
It’s been a rough few years for the once industry-leading smartphone maker. It’s experienced a 93% drop in share price since 2008, one year after the iPhone jumped into the scene, and it has consistently struggled to stand its ground against Apple’s smartphone as well as a slew of Android devices ever since. Even Microsoft, which was criticised for being slow to reboot its mobile platform, leapt past BlackBerry last quarter.
That’s not to mention the utter failure that was their first and so far only attempt at entering the tablet market.
In an effort to turn around things the company went through a number of changes over the past couple of years. Its two co-founders and former co-CEOs left their day to day roles to make way for Thorsten Heins. They also stepped down from their advisory positions and Jim Balsillie even offloaded his entire stake in the firm.
The company changed its name from Research in Motion to BlackBerry and finally launched its new BB 10 platform built from the ground up early this year, alongside new hardware to go with it. But the initial enthusiasm over the launch was short-lived as the company is still struggling to lure in new users and developers.
BlackBerry’s long-term strategy is still a mystery but recent moves taking Secure Work Space and BBM to rival iOS and Android platforms suggests it could eventually become a software and services company.